Can I Be Liable if My Elderly Parent Causes a Car Accident?

Do you have an elderly parent who insists on driving, causing you to constantly worry? If so, you are not alone. Most people feel a moral obligation to care for their parents. However, there is a difference between worrying about your parents getting into an accident and being held legally responsible. When it comes to driving, people are almost never responsible for any accidents caused by their parents. However, there are certain situations in which it can be more complicated.

If your elderly parent has recently been involved in a car accident and you are worried about taking some of the blame, you should contact a skilled power of attorney lawyer. Partnering with a skilled lawyer is the best way to ensure your rights are protected. Here is some important information to know about any liability you may have in the case of a car accident involving your parent.

Do Elderly People Cause Accidents?

According to the CDC, there are more than 40 million licensed drivers above age 65—that is a 50 percent increase since 1999. Additionally, they reported that on average, 7,000 elderly adults die each year in car accidents and over 200,000 receive emergency treatment for injuries related to motor vehicle crashes.

Many people are naturally inclined to worry about their elderly parents or family members who drive—and with good reason. However, in most instances, people can not be held liable for their parents’ behaviors on the road.

Can I Be Liable if My Elderly Parent Causes a Car Accident?

Most of the time, the answer is no. While you may feel responsible for your elderly parent driving, you are not normally legally responsible for any accidents they cause. Taking care of your parents is not equivalent to taking care of a child. Elderly people have more agency, meaning that even if your parent lives with you and you cover the expenses—such as gas, their car insurance, etc.—you are still not legally responsible for their actions, driving or not.

However, if you own the car your parent was driving during the accident and it is registered in your name, it can get more complicated. Things get even trickier if you were aware of your parent’s driving abilities (or lack thereof) at the time the accident happened. The laws outlining a person’s liability in this situation vary by state, but most will hold you accountable to some level.

Consider Getting a Motor Vehicle Power of Attorney

If you are concerned about your parent’s worsening driving abilities, one option is to consider getting a Motor Vehicle Power of Attorney (POA). A POA will allow your parent to redirect all matters related to registering, licensing, and driving their vehicle to you. This can be especially helpful when a car owner is no longer able to attend to their vehicle’s needs. To craft a POA, you will need to include information about your parent and their vehicle and have the document properly notarized.

Get Help from an Experienced Power of Attorney Lawyer Today

If you are worried about your parents being the cause of a devastating car crash, you should consult with a skilled power of attorney lawyer. A skilled POA attorney can help you prepare for the unexpected by establishing powers of attorney and advancing healthcare directives. At Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, our POA attorneys are dedicated to helping you plan ahead for the future.

Our attorneys have extensive experience helping clients throughout Montgomery County, Bucks County, and the surrounding region with their estate planning matters. Our team always handles our clients’ legal and financial affairs with the utmost care and attention to detail. To schedule a free consultation with a skilled POA, complete a contact form or call today at 215-822-7575.